This post is by TrinityP3 Business Director, David Angell. David has extensive commercial and media experience gained most recently as the Regional Chief Operating Officer at Havas Group and through an almost twenty-year career in media agencies, which he uses to help drive optimal results for TrinityP3 clients.
January has just passed. The month of predictions. What do we think are the big trends in marketing over the next 12 months? What’s going to be hot?
I must admit I tend to think about things the other way around. I feel that marketing, like fashion, can be challengingly circular at times – the same issues come around time and time again, dressed up a bit differently but still fundamentally the same.
The logical next thought is – are we really solving for anything, or are we simply revolving in a hamster wheel?
Oh, so negative for a new year! Maybe I simply need to get over my January blues. Or maybe there’s something to it? Let’s see.
Testing the hypothesis
I thought that, rather than just moaning about it, I’d test by taking a TrinityP3 post from ten years ago (23rd January 2012) entitled ’12 Trends in Strategic Marketing Management for 2012’.
Let’s have a look and consider if our areas of focus in 2012 have been SOLVED; or, if our abilities in the same area have EVOLVED, or, if we’re still STATIC in struggling with the same issue; or, if it has simply DISAPPEARED. Here are the 12, plus the introductory overview to the 2012 article.
2012 v 2022 – Solved, Evolved, Static or Disappeared?
INTRODUCTION: 2012 will be a year of solving the conundrums of marketing complexity.
The world is sitting in a now-familiar state of uncertainty, with the debt crisis, stagnant established markets and emerging growth markets, and continued pressure to deliver increasing returns. In the face of this uncertainty and continuing increase in fragmentation and complexity, marketers will need to develop more flexible responses to deal with a range of conundrums.
Verdict: STATIC. The issue of increasing complexity in the marketing function seems never-ending. With the evolution of e-commerce and marketing technology things have only become more complex, but at heart – it seems that the poor old marketers are still on the same rough ride they were on in 2012.
1. Chasing growth and maintaining share
Global marketers are looking for growth in the emerging markets, often funding this investment at the expense of maintaining or defending their existing markets. The conundrum in 2012 is getting the right balance between the two because under-investing in established markets opens opportunities for competitors which could erode the funding required to penetrate the growth markets.
Verdict: EVOLVED. The rise of e-commerce and changing socio-economic situations in many of the biggest markets in the world (think BRICS – a term actually coined in 2001) has made emerging markets way more accessible, and important as economic entities. But the challenges of navigating different cultural needs and placing bets on which parts of a product portfolio will work – remain.
2. Knowing as many customers and as much about them as you can
Customers are no more diverse than before, it is just now they have a voice and power of numbers. Before, marketers could treat them as an amorphous group or segment. But now the individuals within that group can and do connect and share and flex their muscles. The continuing conundrum this year will be how to continue to reach a mass while being able to connect with the individuals within that group in the way they want.
Verdict: EVOLVED (But certainly not Solved!). Hugely, unquestionably, evolved! The question, of course, is whether that evolution (in advertising terms, inability to individually target, collect and distribute customer data, in privacy, in tailored content) has evolved for the better, or is about to collapse in on itself. I doubt many people would consider the current state, however tech-enabled, to be perfect, and many probably yearn for a return to pre-2012 days.
3. Matching, making and managing channels
Everyone talks about owned, bought and earned media. But marketers struggle with getting the balance right. The conundrum appears to be to go for reach with the traditional bought media with little budget for investing in owned and earned, or invest in owned and earned media for a greater engagement at the expense of reach. Striking the balance is difficult but in 2012, a “test and learn” strategy will provide the answers.
Verdict: STATIC. Well, I suppose you could contest that we’ve all become better at social media management, that it’s actually now ‘Paid, Owned, Earned, Shared’ – but really, the challenge of POES balance is pretty much the same now as it was in 2012 – just harder to solve for.
4. Working globally and locally
The idea of the global village is a reality with universal Internet connectivity. But it is a village of multiple communities and cultural diversity. Global and multi-national marketers are confronted with the conundrum that what they do in one market will be shared across all. Therefore in 2012, there will be an increasing need to have a consistent global strategy with aligned and localised implementation.
Verdict: EVOLVED. ‘Global Village’ is now an outdated concept, and the almost global power of social networks, along with advances in content creation, has to mean that the global/local execution has significantly evolved. However, the ‘almost’ global power of social networks recognises the fact that China, one of the biggest economic and social entities in the world, remains completely separated, in social network terms, from the giants of the West. Navigating China remains a huge challenge for many global marketers.
5. Having customers “Do” or “Know”
Traditional advertising has been focused on awareness. But following awareness is engagement. “Tell me how” is one thing. “Show me how” is another. But let me “do it for myself” is engagement. The conundrum is how to strike the balance in investment between driving awareness and engagement to meet expectations.
VERDICT: DISAPPEARED. I think the sheer proliferation in messaging techniques, the rise of the influencer, the rise of customer-curated content, the platforms and technology available in 2022, makes this 2012 challenge pretty much obsolete. Yes – we’ve cracked one!
6. Small ideas or a BIG idea
You load up your advertising with the big idea, you aim it at the target audience and you fire. And you keep doing it until you run out of firepower – usually budget. But now fragmented targets require a more granular approach with an on-going “test and learn” process is replacing the old campaign model. The conundrum is that most marketing strategy (and its funding and execution) is campaign driven and so 2012 will be a year of transition.
VERDICT: STATIC/EVOLVED. Let’s face it, so many marketers still struggle with this one. In 2012 the concept of ‘always on’ didn’t really exist, and the advances in testing opportunities, modelling capabilities et al have definitely evolved things in 2022 – but this old chestnut still lingers.
7. Mobile for reach or engagement
The conundrum is not mobile or not, as any brand wanting to engage customers needs to think mobile (It is the main access to internet in emerging markets). The conundrum is how. With so much opportunity for reach and engagement, too many have failed using the mobile for awareness and there has only been nominal success in brands using mobile for engagement. But in 2012 that will change.
VERDICT: DISAPPEARED. There’s no such conundrum any more. Mobiles are for EVERYTHING, and EVERYTHING in marketing is ultimately tuned in some way to mobile. End of story.
8. Collaboration or alignment?
To embrace complexity requires collaboration both within the organisation and across the organisations engaged. But the conundrum is that collaboration requires alignment. But aligned to what? Corporate objectives? CEO vision? Brand? Sales projections? The customer? The first step to creating collaboration is to agree on what is it you are collaborating on and to what outcome. Internal and then external alignment.
VERDICT: STATIC. This is an incredibly static challenge when I think about it – in fact, added complexities of various kinds have only exacerbated the fiefdoms, agendas, technical and operational challenges involved in collaboration and/or alignment – with the burden of heritage systems, thinking or intractable individuals still involved.
9. Who owns digital?
Digital is not just the all-pervasive platform of marketing. It is the same across the whole of the business world. Websites, social media, and other external communications meet internal finance systems, inventory control and logistics. Nowhere is this more obvious than e-commerce. So the conundrum is who owns digital? This year the CMO, CIO and the CFO will become new friends for every company embracing social media and e-commerce.
VERDICT: EVOLVED. I think we’ve generally evolved to a state where both everyone and no one ‘owns digital’ – although there are still a fair number of ‘digital marketing’ functions sitting in organisations, I doubt anyone would claim that these departments ‘own digital’ in the modern-day sense. Of course, the term ‘digital’ is itself outdated, but the applications are now so myriad that everyone has sort of settled into this normality. This doesn’t mean that ‘digital’ problems affecting organisations or marketing teams are all solved, of course – far, far from it!
10. Pay for results or value but not costs
Much of the cost of advertising is simply a cost. The cost of media. The cost of agencies. The cost of production. But with the increased pressure on marketing and advertising cost, the conundrum is how do we move from this cost based approach to a value or results based model. It is no longer acceptable to be a cost of business, but for marketing to be an investment, this year we need to stop thinking about costs and start focusing on value and the return on investment.
VERDICT: STATIC/EVOLVED. TrinityP3 has been a leading proponent of a move to more value-based approaches in many areas – in the way in which agencies are KPI’d, in the way in which remuneration models are developed, in the application of different thinking to briefs, to campaigns, to pitching, to media buying…the list goes on.
Whilst thinking is definitely more enlightened in parts in 2022, there are still disappointingly large numbers of players clinging to outdated cost input related thinking when it comes to marketing. Consequentially, marketing still struggles to be accountable to the businesses it represents.
11. Social media is in-house and out-house
While traditionally many organisations outsource their communications needs to specialist agencies, social media is causing a rethink. In-house or out-house? With the opportunity to engage your customer in a conversation it is not just a marketing channel, but also a customer service tool, a reputation management function and a customer relationship management application. So is it in-house? And if so who owns it? This conundrum needs to be answered this year.
VERDICT: EVOLVED. ‘Social media management’ is largely in-housed and ‘social media advertising’ is often hybridised. But the in-housed/out-sourced question has evolved to many different agency functions. It has to be said that many who decided to fully in-house agency services have not always been completely successful – which is why numerous hybrid models have emerged to balance the desire to in-house with the expertise an agency can provide.
12. Who is responsible for CSR?
The customer is talking about you. And not just your products and services, but the way you manufacture them, the way you treat suppliers and employees, the environment and in fact all aspects of your business. But it is not just another channel to be managed. The conundrum is how do you make Corporate Social Responsibility everyone’s responsibility.
VERDICT: STATIC. The customer is still talking about you in this way, but now they’re talking much more loudly, have much more access to information and have a far higher ability to influence via various platforms. Traditional corporate organisations have not done enough to evolve in this area; neither have manufacturers, agencies or many others. The positive is that their inaction has led to the rise of many ‘sustainable’ new competitors. But the problems very much remain.
What’s The Final Verdict in 2022?
So, there you have it. How much have we actually ‘solved’ since 2012? Not a huge amount, it appears. How many issues of 2012 have really disappeared? Not many.
But how much has evolved? Lots. And that’s due to all the people way more innovative and intelligent than I am, who continue to build our industry, for better or worse. And let’s be honest, evolution keeps us on our toes, it keeps us interested and it keeps us challenged.
Just finishing on a positive note, there. Happy 2022!
For more than 15 years TrinityP3 have been helping our clients address and solve these challenges. So the question is how can we assist you?